Published Dec 01, 2002With Femme Fatale, Brian De Palma has returned to the sort of movie he does best. Filled with twists, double-crosses, and visually stunning sequences, Femme Fatale is a throwback to his earlier films like Dressed to Kill and Blow Out. The movie opens with a fantastic jewelry heist set at the Cannes Film Festival, with Laure (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) playing a pivotal role in the crime. But, not surprisingly, she decides against sharing the loot with her partners-in-crime and escapes with the $10 million booty. Meanwhile, a down-on-his-luck photographer (Antonio Banderas) is about to find himself embroiled in Laure's scheme. Femme Fatale, like all good noir films, is almost impossible to describe without giving something away. And a great deal of what makes the movie so enjoyable are the many surprises that crop up along the way. It's almost impossible to predict what's coming next, and just when you think you've got a handle on the story, De Palma turns everything on its head. The movie features a surprisingly effective performance from supermodel-turned-actress Romijn-Stamos. This is a character that's always manipulating those around her, and Romijn-Stamos has to be able to instantly switch from cruel indifference to sympathy-inducing vulnerability. She pulls it off, creating one of the most interesting female characters to hit the screen since John Dahl's The Last Seduction. But as good as she is, Femme Fatale belongs to De Palma. The movie is chock full of the various camera tricks that made him famous more than two decades ago, from slow-motion sequences to uninterrupted long takes. He's crafted a movie that, if nothing else, is always amazing just to look at. Fortunately, though, his screenplay is just as interesting as his visual style and Femme Fatale could even be considered somewhat of a comeback for the director whose Mission to Mars was visually stunning but ultimately dull and derivative.